Why Telstra making payphones free helps

Telstra payphone in Melbourne.
Photo by Akshay Chauhan on Unsplash.

In some heartening news this week, Telstra has just made calls from its 15,000 existing payphones to Australian landline and mobile numbers free!

Since many people have mobile phones these days, the old school payphone has dropped in popularity. Many may even be surprised that they still exist anywhere, other than in old 80s and 90s flicks. They are still around though and are in fact very helpful to a lot of people.

Payphones may even be crucial in some situations.

Payphones in an emergency

Telstra chief executive Andrew Penn said some 11 million calls were made from payphones in Australia last year. Of those 230,000 were to vital services, including Triple Zero. 

"Since mobiles became nearly universal, a lot of Australians might not give [payphones] much thought. Until there’s a natural disaster. Until you’re in vulnerable circumstances, homeless or fleeing domestic violence," said Penn.

So, payphones can be a lifeline for thousands of vulnerable Australians, including the homeless, people escaping domestic violence and people affected by natural disasters. He said, “I’ve seen queues of people waiting in line, coins at the ready, to use a payphone to call home and tell their family and friends they’re safe after a bushfire, a cyclone or some other natural disaster has taken the mobile network down.”

Free calls from Telstra payphones

Need to make a free call? Look for a payphone with the Telstra ‘T’ on it. In a case of emergency, payphones can usually be found near train stations, truck stops and major thoroughfares.

From now, calls to local and national, standard fixed line numbers and standard Australian mobile numbers will be free. Telstra’s payphones will also become coinless from 1 October 2021. Just remember to bring your sanitiser!

According to Penn, making payphones free will cost the telco around $5 million each year. This might seem like a lot, but as Penn said to the ABC “it’s not a big deal for Telstra.” The telco giant offers mobile phone plans, broadband internet and Telstra TV.

Speaking of staying connected, head to Mozo’s NBN hub to compare home internet plans and see if you could be paying less for yours. You might just save yourself a pretty penny!